Pasadena, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/01/2015 -- An Indian tribe's goal of harvesting and distributing medical marijuana was foiled this week by Mendocino County sheriff's deputies. Hundreds of plants at two properties in Ukiah were seized by law enforcement officers.
The Pinoleville Pomo Nation's reservation is in the Pinoleville Rancheria. The primary parcel of land occupies 99 acres in Mendocino County, and approximately 70 tribal members reside there. A second parcel is located in Lake County. The Rancheria was terminated by the US Federal Government but it was restored in the 1980s.
The Pomo who became the Pinoleville Band lived in northern Ukiah Valley, but their ancestral lands were overrun by non-native settlers in the mid-19th century. Their reservation was established in 1911 by the US Federal Government but was terminated in 1966 under the California Rancheria Act. They quickly lost 50% of their land base. In 1979 the Pinoleville Band joined Tillie Hardwick v. the United States, a class action suit that was decided in favor of the tribes. The Pinoleville Pomo were able to regain federal recognition and restore their original reservation to trust status. The tribe conducts business from Ukiah, California.
Deputies were made aware of the grow operation on the sovereign Pinoleville Pomo National tribal lands while investigating a burglar alarm nearby; law enforcement officers spotted a group of people loading cannabis from the tribal lands into a nearby building. This spurred the execution of two search warrants and resulted in the seizure of hundreds of cannabis plants.
After obtaining the two search warrants the officers searched a state street building and stated that the search resulted in the discovery of what authorities describe as a "honey oil chemical extraction lab". Also found were more than 100 pounds of trimmed and processed cannabis.
Authorities served a warrant at the 99-acre Rancheria and found 382 marijuana plants in addition to plants which had already been harvested. The authorities had prior knowledge of the plants and had been participating in an ongoing investigation of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation's lands for several months.
The sheriff's office, in a statement, said that authorities gleaned that the tribe intended to grow marijuana and discussed these plans with tribe representatives. They then began to conduct aerial surveillance and determined that there were over 400 plants that were being grown on the Pinoleville Pomo lands.
The Mendocino sheriff deputies said that the raid was due to several violations of the state's marijuana cultivation, possession, and narcotics lab ordinances. Mendocino County's legal limit for medical marijuana is 25 plants; the trouble here though, is the fact that technically the Pinoleville Pomo Nation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe recognized by the the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and is therefore not subject to the laws designated by state government.
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